Friday, December 31, 1999

Bud, Not Buddy: Wanna Win a Newbery? Write about an Orphan

Bud, Not Buddy (1999) by Christopher Paul Curtis is my latest read in my endeavor to plow through the winners of the Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature.

I've ranted on this before, but it bears repeating - if only because Newbery winners can't stop repeating the pattern. What's with book after book being about orphans? Apparently the committee which decides Newbery winners loves stories about orphans.

In this case, you can't get past the first paragraph of the book flap before you know this is a story of a ten-year-old motherless boy in depression-era Flint, Michigan. Bud (not Buddy) is determined to find his father, who he believes is jazz musician Herman E. Calloway.

Newbery committee biases aside, one can't blame the author for focusing his story on an orphan. He tells a strong story where the main character is a determined boy who doesn't let the hard knocks of his life get him down. When Bud finds the man he thinks is his father, he is immediately embraced by the jazz musicians who have formed their own sort of family.

I didn't get a chance to see it, but found out this had been turned into a children's play and was done at The Coterie, a children's theater a mere 15 minutes away from me! It is interesting in that my post about the Newbery-winning Holes by Louis Sacher, focused on how that book was turned into a movie. I would have liked to seen how Bud, Not Buddy fared as a play - and the Coterie has a reputation as one of the five best children's theaters in the country. In any event, here's there blurb about the play:

Friday, January 1, 1999

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness published 100 years ago

First posted 6/9/2020; updated 7/5/2020.

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

First Publication: 1899

Category: novella

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

Heart of Darkness is ”one of the most haunting stories ever written,” BN “widely regarded as a masterpiece for its vivid study of human nature and the greed and ruthlessness of imperialism.” BN “In its combination of narrative and symbolic power, masterly character study and acute psychological penetration, Heart of Darkness ranks as a landmark of modern fiction. It is a book no serious student of literature can afford to miss.” AZ

The story is narrated by Marlow, a riverboat captain, as he journeys “up the Congo River on behalf of a Belgian trading company” AZ “at the height of European colonialism.” BN “Astounded by the brutal depravity he witnesses, Marlow becomes obsessed with meeting” BN “the mysterious Kurtz,” AZ “a famously idealistic and able man stationed farther along the river.” BN Kurtz is “an ivory trader who exercises an almost godlike sway over the inhabitants of the region.” AZ

What Marlow “discovers, however, is a horror beyond imagining.” BN “Both repelled and fascinated by the man, Marlow is brought face to face with the corruption and despair that Conrad saw at the heart of human existence.” AZ

Resources and Related Links:

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our May 2020 book.